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San Diego Personal Injury Law Blog

Forced-acceleration car accidents often involve elderly drivers

Elderly drivers tend to get involved in freak accidents where loss of control over the gas pedal is a factor. This often manifests through a car that is speeding out of control due to an accelerator pedal being stuck. Such car accidents are not that rare in California and other states. Although there is a variety of causes for cars racing out of control, against the will of the driver, the event does seem to occur more often when an elderly person is behind the wheel.

For example, on Sept. 3 an elderly driver rampaged his car through the parking lot of the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre while striking a fence, several pedestrians and a parked, unoccupied police vehicle. The impact sent the police car onto a lawn where it struck a group of people who were picnicking. Four of those picnickers were seriously injured by the patrol car. They were rushed to a hospital where they reportedly remained the next morning.

Hospitals hide from bereaved families 1,000s of superbug deaths

Another tragic problem has been uncovered in the health care industry. It involves a pattern of patient deaths due to a drug-resistant bacterial infection that is passed on to the patients, who are often infants, while they are receiving treatment in hospitals, including some here in Southern California. The situation has reached critical mass in some places. In one hospital, according to a Reuters research team, a whole neonatal ward of about a dozen babies died before the infection had subsided.   

The problem goes deeper. The hospitals and doctors have been executing death certificates that do not mention the drug-resistant bacterial infection. Instead, most of them list a sepsis infection associated with whatever condition was being treated. In the case of the babies the incredible reason listed on the birth certificates was being born "premature." According to the Reuters report, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that about 23,000 people die each year from some 17 types of antibiotic-resistant diseases.

Car accidents entangle L.A. Angels star in a scary collision

When a star athlete on a California team is involved in an accident or other newsworthy event, the news reports may seem to try and sway public opinion either for or against the star. On Sept. 2, a star slugger on the Los Angeles Angels team was involved in an accident on the 55 freeway at about 9 p.m. He was reportedly on his way home after a game and dinner with other players when he ran into backed-up traffic from one or more car accidents ahead.

The baseball slugger was Mike Trout, a popular player with the Angels. When he approached the backed-up traffic, he did not stop in time to prevent colliding into another vehicle. The collision sent a 27-year old woman to a hospital with "major" injuries, according to the California Highway Patrol. If anyone benefited from the reporting on the accident, it would appear to be Trout, who did not get grilled on why he could not stop in time to prevent the serious collision.

Medical malpractice settlement of $4.25 million is made public

The general practice in medical malpractice settlements in California and other states is for the court to allow the amount of the settlement to be sealed and kept from public view. Defense counsel inevitably obtains the consent of the other parties to that protection for their clients. However, from the perspective of the plaintiff's medical malpractice bar, the practice keeps vital information about medical providers from public scrutiny.

Rarely will a court reject a defendant's request to keep the settlement amount sealed. However, one judge in another state did just that recently in a $4.25 million settlement of a death claim involving a mother's loss of twins who were stillborn. The state court judge ruled that the public's right to know outweighed defense concerns for privacy.

3 toddlers die in fatal accident; parents get a gift of love

California can lay claim to one of the more unique accident stories in recent times. It started off with a horrendous tragedy that unfortunately occurs daily in this state and nationwide. A mother was in her minivan sitting in backed-up traffic on an Orange County highway when a heavily weighed down industrial rig barreled into them going 55 mph. Her three children, two girls and a boy, ages 2, 4 and 5, died as a result of the fatal accident.

The driver of the rig was sentenced to a year in jail. Although not clearly reported, it is likely that the parents settled with the trucking company for a very large amount reflecting the wrongful death value of three young lives. The prospect of a large settlement likely reflects the need for trucking companies to carry excess insurance to cover this very kind of catastrophe.

Lawsuit: Failure to diagnose sepsis causes 3 amputations

The failure to properly determine a patient's medical condition is very often the leading reason behind a medical malpractice claim in California and other states. Such claims may be characterized as a failure to diagnose or as a misdiagnosis. When medical care is provided that misses the mark and is not relevant to the patient's actual condition, or when care is totally omitted due to the failure to diagnose, the table may be set for a claim of medical malpractice.

When there is a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, this may cause a severe medical setback to the patient. It may create a situation where a serious infection, for example, is allowed to run rampant in the patient's body without any treatment for it. One case that was recently filed illustrates the point.

Crosswalk accident fatality leads to $9.5 million jury verdict

A municipality or state agency can be responsible for paying damages to victims who died or were seriously injured due to road conditions that the government unit should have corrected or repaired. That was essentially what happened in a recent jury verdict that awarded the family of a deceased 62-year-old man $9.5 million in damages against the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in connection with a fatal crosswalk accident. The award came after a two-week jury trial brought by the family in San Mateo County Superior Court.

The man was walking his bike in a crosswalk in Atherton in Sept. 2010 when a vehicle driven by a Stanford man crashed into him. The jury found the driver only 10 percent liable for causing the accident and put the remainder of the blame on Caltrans. The agency promised to install pedestrian-activated stop lights at the intersection in 2012 after two women were seriously injured in the same crosswalk.

Wrongful death claims likely from fatal crash in Folsom

One of the most common scenarios for a car accident in California and elsewhere is the crossover accident. One driver crosses over the yellow line or the median strip and crashes into traffic coming in the other direction. When one or more innocent victims die in the accident, the driver who crossed the yellow line will almost always be liable in a wrongful death claim to the estate of each deceased victim that makes a claim.

A fatal accident in which three persons died occurred recently in Folsom. The driver of a car traveling west crossed over into the east lanes and hit an oncoming vehicle in a head on collision at the Folsom Lake Crossing. There are many causes for this type of fatal accident. Sometimes a driver will be going too fast to negotiate a steep curve in the road. Impairment of the driver is always a leading cause of crossovers  collisions.

Medical malpractice claim settles for compromise of $925,000

Sometimes a defendant doctor will argue that the patient's condition was so severe and critical that nothing could have been done realistically to save that patient. The argument will have to survive the scrutiny of the plaintiff's expert witnesses in order to do the defendant any good. Ultimately, where the parties don't settle, the decision regarding whether the patient's condition was hopeless will be decided by the jury pursuant to California law. If the jury believes the plaintiff's evidence, it will reject the defendant's argument that nothing could be done and will conclude that medical malpractice occurred.

In a case in another state, a doctor and the hospital where he practices settled a wrongful death case for $925,000 prior to going to trial. The suit was brought by the deceased man's surviving wife. The suit claimed that the doctor and the hospital took too long to perform a CT scan when the 51-year-old man went there with severe back pain in 2010.

Medical malpractice statute reduces $1.75 million award

When a patient goes for a standard operation, such as an appendectomy or a hiatal hernia, and the patient dies shortly thereafter, an investigation must be instituted by the next of kin as quickly as possible. There is generally going to be some kind of irregularity that occurred in the procedure, assuming that the death is, in fact, related to the surgery. By getting the facts and the records early, the surviving family of the decedent will be in a much better position to evaluate under California law whether the death was caused by medical malpractice.

In a case in the Los Angeles Superior Court, a jury recently awarded two siblings the sum of $1.75 million for the death of their 44-year-old mother in 2013. The plaintiffs were teenagers at that time. Their mother went to facilities owned by the University of California for a surgical procedure to fix a hiatal hernia. It is alleged that the surgeons failed to observe and diagnose a stomach perforation during the surgery.